"Do or Do not. There is no try."

“Whose Security?”: The GOP Is Playing Games With The Department Of Homeland Security’s Funding In Order To Placate Its Extremists

The Republicans are railing against President Barack Obama for not having a high level U.S. official marching in solidarity with the French this past weekend. OK, that was a mistake on Obama’s part, but this from the Republican crowd that was so anti-France it wanted to change the name of “French fries” in the House of Representatives cafeteria to “Freedom fries”? This from the crowd who will vote tomorrow to approve a Homeland Security Bill totaling $39.7 billion only if it guts our immigration system and refuses to fund the Dream Act, deporting hundreds of thousands of children as well as parents? This from the Republicans who refused to act for a year and a half on a bipartisan Senate bill on immigration that passed with over two-thirds of the vote?

Does Speaker John Boehner really want to put in jeopardy the funding for Homeland Security, especially after the attacks in France and the raised threat level? I doubt it. But the speaker needs to throw his sizable right-wing caucus a bone and let them vote to defund Obama’s immigration plans. He then prays that the Senate saves him, doesn’t pass this absurd piece of legislation, so then they can end up passing a clean bill funding Homeland Security before the end of February when funding runs out. Or if the president is forced to veto the bill, he figures that somehow some fig leaf can be created to allow him to basically bring up a clean funding bill.

This strategy, negotiated with the extremist members of the House of Representatives, was lunacy in December; it is akin to a Kamikaze mission for Republicans now.

In fact, it is a double whammy. It convinces voters that Republicans are the anti-Hispanic and anti-immigrant party, and that they are more than willing to sacrifice our nation’s security to prove how intolerant they are as a party.

My guess is that the reason Boehner wants a vote on Wednesday is to get it out of the way, to give the extremists their say and then avoid a last minute crisis over Homeland Security funding. One day of a “shutdown” of those critical agencies is one day too many.

It will be interesting to see how many of these strategic blunders the Republicans make over the course of the next two years. The House, of course, can pass whatever it wants, but if the GOP puts forth bills as unrealistic and unhelpful as this effort, it will certainly pay the price at the ballot box. It will be their own job security that will be put in peril.


By: Peter Fenn, U. S. News and World Report, January 13, 2015

January 15, 2015 Posted by | Homeland Security, House Republicans, Immigration | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Paul Ryan’s Poor Memory Fails Him Again”: Ryan Just Doesn’t Remember Current Events Very Well

I’ve long marveled at Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) unusually poor memory, and his latest complaints about immigration policy suggest his recall troubles are getting worse (via Jon Chait).

“We’ve gone to the president and said, ‘Give us time to do immigration reform, to work on the issue this year. We want to get this done.’ And this is the reaction he has to that?” said Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the 2012 vice presidential candidate. “He had two years with a super-majority of his own party, and he didn’t lift a finger. And now he won’t give us a few weeks?”

It takes a truly talented individual to pack in this many falsehoods into a single paragraph.

“Give us time to do immigration reform”? Well, Republicans have controlled the House for four years, during which time they haven’t even held so much as a hearing on a piece of legislation. More to the point, the Senate passed a popular, bipartisan immigration bill 512 days ago, and soon after, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) promised the lower chamber would act on the issue. The Republican leader then broke his word and killed the reform effort.

In other words, Obama gave Republican lawmakers “time to do immigration reform,” and the GOP did nothing. Does Ryan not remember this?

“He had two years with a super-majority of his own party”? Actually, no, Democrats had a super majority in the Senate for four months, not two years. It’s a big difference.

“He didn’t lift a finger”? Actually, Democrats tried to pass the DREAM Act, which used to be a bipartisan policy, when they controlled Congress. Republicans killed it with a filibuster.

“And now he won’t give us a few weeks?” Well, President Obama not only gave Republicans all kinds of time, he also received no guarantee – from Ryan or any other GOP leader – that another delay would lead to real legislation. So what in the world is Ryan talking about?

It gets worse. Ryan also complained this week that Obama’s decision to govern on immigration policy means Republicans won’t govern on their own priorities.

Lori Montgomery reported on Wednesday on Ryan’s plans, now that he’ll be chairing the House Ways & Means Committee.

An overhaul of the nation’s tax laws will also rank high on the agenda when Ryan (R-Wis.) takes the helm of the tax-writing panel in January.

“We’d like to do it sooner rather than later, but we don’t control everything,” Ryan said in an interview. He cited Obama’s longstanding refusal to roll out his own tax plan as well as the president’s recent decision to forge ahead with a unilateral ban on the deportation of some undocumented immigrants – a move that has inflamed Republicans.

Again, comments like these suggest Ryan just doesn’t remember current events very well. In reality, Obama presented a blueprint for tax reform and asked lawmakers to work on details that could pass both chambers. A bipartisan tax-reform plan came together, at which point, House Republicans killed it.

That’s not opinion. It’s just what happened.

Complicating matters, Ryan prefers a more right-wing version of tax reform than the one outgoing Ways & Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) unveiled, with Ryan’s version focused primary on – you guessed it – tax breaks for the wealthy.

Chait’s conclusion rings true: “It’s just bizarre for Ryan to lament that Obama’s plans to make immigration enforcement more humane is costing him the chance to cut taxes for the rich.”


By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, November 22, 2014

November 22, 2014 Posted by | Immigration Reform, Paul Ryan, Tax Reform | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“A Racial Hunkering Down”: Republicans Pave The Way To All-White Future

Even Senator John McCain has surrendered. A steadfast supporter of immigration reform with a pathway to citizenship, McCain essentially acknowledged yesterday in Georgia that his party’s anti-immigration forces have demolished any hope of soon legalizing the roughly 11 million undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

McCain’s assessment is as unimpeachable as it is irrational. In an interview with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he said, “I understand now, especially in my home state of Arizona, that these children coming, and now with the threat of ISIS … that we have to have a secure border.”

Follow that? Immigration reform, including the legalization of millions of immigrants already living in the U.S., is on hold because tens of thousands of Central American children have surrendered to border authorities. Also, because a sadistic army is killing people in Syria and Iraq. McCain, often a summer soldier when the forces of demagogy call, was perhaps too embarrassed to link Ebola to the new orthodoxy; of course, others already have.

It’s hard to see how Republicans walk this back before 2017 — at the earliest. What began with the national party calling for immigration reform as a predicate to future Republican relevancy has ended with complete capitulation to the party’s anti-immigration base. Conservatives are busy running ads and shopping soundbites depicting immigrants as vectors of disease, criminality and terrorism, a 30-second star turn that Hispanic and Asian voters, in particular, may not entirely relish.

“The day after the 2014 election,” emailed immigration advocate Frank Sharry, Republicans will “face a future defined by an anti-Latino and anti-immigrant brand and the rapid and relentless growth of Latino, Asian-American and immigrant voters.”

Sharry is bitter about the Republican rejection of comprehensive immigration reform. And public opinion has turned against immigration in the wake of the border influx of Central Americans earlier this year. But is Sharry’s analysis skewed? There has never been a convincing “day after tomorrow” plan for Republicans if they abandon reform and embrace their most anti-immigrant wing.

Yet it looks as if Republicans have done just that. “Secure the border” is an empty slogan and practical nightmare. But if you’re a conservative politician desperate to assuage (or exploit) what writer Steve Chapman calls the “deep anxieties” stirred by “brown migrants sneaking over from Mexico,” it’s an empty slogan with legs. It will be vastly easier for Republicans running in 2016 to shout “secure the border!” than to defy the always anxious, politically empowered Republican base. Perhaps Republicans in Congress will muster some form of Dream Act for immigrant youth or a visa sop to the tech industry, but they seem incapable of more.

In that case, the path of least resistance — and it has been many years since national Republicans have taken a different route — will be to continue reassuring the base while alienating brown voters. (After six years in which Republicans’ highest priority has been destruction of the nation’s first black president, it’s doubtful black voters will be persuadable anytime soon.) The party’s whole diversity gambit goes out the window. The White Album plays in perpetuity on Republican turntables.

That would be a significant problem if it resulted only in the marginalization and regionalization of the nation’s conservative party. But a racial hunkering down in an increasingly multi-racial nation will not be a passive or benign act. Pressed to the demographic wall, Republicans will be fighting to win every white vote, not always in the most high-minded manner. Democrats, likewise, will have a powerful incentive to question the motives and consequences of their opponents’ racial solidarity.

Immigration has always been about more than race. November’s election will go a long way toward making it about nothing else.


By: Francis Wilkinson, The National Memo, October 18, 2014




October 19, 2014 Posted by | Conservatives, Immigration Reform, Republicans | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Too Inept To Lead: Steve King Fills A Vacuum Left By John Boehner

The Democratic Party’s general approach to immigration policy is pretty straightforward: create a legal process through which millions of undocumented immigrants already in the United States can become legal citizens, while taking concrete steps to improve border security. The Republican Party’s position on immigration is … less clear.

GOP officials are divided, confused, and overwhelmed by uncertainty. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) was asked over the weekend for his personal opinion on a pathway to citizenship, and the Republican leader was so overwhelmed by weakness and fear that he refused to give an answer.

This in turn creates a vacuum within the Republican Party, which is filled by folks like Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa). Watch on YouTube

For those who can’t watch clips online, here’s what the GOP lawmaker told a right-wing website about Dream Act kids:

“There are kids that were brought into this country by their parents unknowing they were breaking the law. And they will say to me and others who defend the rule of law, ‘We have to do something about the 11 million. Some of them are valedictorians.’ Well, my answer to that is … it’s true in some cases, but they aren’t all valedictorians. They weren’t all brought in by their parents. For every one who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there who weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert. Those people would be legalized with the same act.”

In case facts still matter, King’s assessment isn’t even close to being accurate.

But even if we put that aside, King’s offensiveness reinforce a larger dynamic in Republican politics that party leaders are eventually going to have to address.

To be sure, House GOP leaders eventually got around to criticizing King’s comments last night, just as they did in March when another House Republican lawmaker used the “wetbacks” slur.

But soon after, King doubled down on his remarks, appearing on an Iowa radio show to say, “It’s not something that I’m making up. This is real.”

And while King keeps talking, and party leaders keep wringing their hands, it’s worth appreciating the political circumstances that have brought us to this point. Note, for example, that the right-wing Iowan may come across as a racist buffoon that the American mainstream finds repulsive, but at this point, he’s winning — King has been fighting to kill comprehensive immigration reform, and by all appearances, House Republican leaders intend to hand him and his allies the outcome they prefer.

In other words, as ridiculous as Steve King appears, he and his kooky friends are shaping the House Republican caucus’ position on immigration policy, largely because Boehner and his friends are too inept to lead.

What’s more, the dynamic is getting worse, not better. As Jon Chait explained back in April, “A drawn-out immigration debate commanding center stage will simply create more opportunities for conservative Republicans to say offensive things about Latinos. And make no doubt: however diligently their consultants coach them not to, they will say offensive things about Latinos.”

That was nearly four months ago, and Chait’s prediction is holding up quite well.

If Boehner wants to make this nightmare go away, the Speaker is going to have to try to pass immigration reform. Unfortunately for his party, the weight falls on Boehner’s shoulders, and he may not be up to the task.

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, July 24, 2013

July 25, 2013 Posted by | Bigotry, Immigration Reform | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Based On Ambition”: Marco Rubio Decides Whether He Wants To Kill Immigration Reform Or Not

The Senate has just begun the weeks-long process of debating and voting on the immigration reform bill crafted by the “gang of eight.” Harry Reid would like the bill passed on July 4, for the rather obvious symbolism. Supporters are still confident that the bill will pass the Senate.

The best thing the bill has going for it is that Mitch McConnell is going to actually allow it to come to the floor. (Minority Leader McConnell has veto power over most Senate business, because many senators have convinced themselves that the founders wanted him to.) The “gang” has four Republican members, meaning only a few more are needed in order to reach 60 votes and beat a potential filibuster. Kelly Ayotte is one Republican who’s publicly announced her support for the bill.

That assumes, obviously, that all Democrats and all the Republican members of the “gang” vote for their own bill, which might not happen. In fact “gang” member Marco Rubio has threatened to vote against the bill unless it includes “tougher” border security. And amending the bill so that Democrats no longer want to vote for it is one of the Senate anti-reform bloc’s strategies for defeating the bill. Rubio has begun signalling that he supports such an amendment, by Senator John Cornyn, that would increase surveillance and enforcement at the border. More importantly, it would prevent the “trigger” point at which immigrants can apply for green cards, and then citizenship, from happening until a series of incredibly unreasonable security standards are met, including “90 percent of illegal border crossers” apprehended and “100 percent border surveillance, or situational awareness, of each one-mile segment of the Southern border.”

(In Bush’s second term, Cornyn made similar proposals, and then decided not to support reform after all, surprise surprise.)

Meanwhile, Ted Cruz, a right-wing populist Senate newcomer who may want to be president, just like Senator Rubio, has, unlike Rubio, won himself a great deal of conservative affection by declaring himself immigration reform’s greatest enemy in the Senate. In explaining his opposition to Yahoo, Cruz sums up the right-wing argument: If immigration reform fails, Democrats will be to blame, because they insisted that immigration reform actually do something about immigrants:

“The biggest obstacle to passing common sense immigration reform is President Barack Obama,” Cruz tells The Fine Print, going on to say that the White House’s “insistence” on including a path to citizenship is standing in the way of the bill’s ultimate passage.

Cruz has not “ruled out” a filibuster, which means he will filibuster. But then everyone already assumed the bill would require 60 votes to pass.

This is Rubio’s problem: It’s hard to see the GOP changing so much by 2016 that having been essential in passing immigration reform won’t be seen by many conservative activists as a massive liability. Rubio had a “pass” from conservative media figures like Rush Limbaugh to work on this stuff before, because everyone sort of “agreed” immigration reform was necessary. The further we get from November 2012, though, the less urgent it seems, and the nativist factions are reasserting themselves. Mark Krikorian in the National Review and Mickey Kaus at the Daily Caller are trashing Rubio almost every day. This Powerline post is a good example of the sort of press he’s increasingly getting. Rubio is now supporting amendments demanding incredibly strict border enforcement before the “path to citizenship” can begin. This is what conservatives want. The Powerline guy’s headline is “MARCO RUBIO’S LATEST FIG LEAF.” The problem, you see, is that Rubio’s proposed security amendments will rely on the government to enforce them, and you can’t trust the government. There’s not really any pleasing these guys, except, of course, with a bill that provides no path to citizenship at all — which is the Cruz approach.

The calculation now, for Rubio, is a bit complicated. If it looks like something close to the Senate bill can pass the House with Republican support, Rubio is no longer the sole conservative responsible for it happening. He escapes blame. If the Senate bill passes with Rubio’s support and then Boehner decides to get the bill through the House with Democratic votes, Rubio will be branded a traitor to the conservative cause for the rest of eternity. If it passes the Senate and dies in the House, Rubio stuck his neck out for nothing.

When Rubio met behind closed doors with some of the most conservative members of the House, he was less trying to sell the bill than he was getting a feel for the room. As the National Review’s Jonathan Strong says:

Opponents and advocates estimate that 10 to 20 Republican senators are on the fence. Politics, as much as policy, is driving their final calculus. What they need isn’t always some specific change but rather, as one top Republican described it, a “secret sauce” of political cover.

Rubio’s argument is that he’s working to make the bill conservative enough to pass. But aligning himself with people like Cornyn, whose goal is to make the bill totally unpalatable to Democrats, suggests that he’d be fine with simply making the bill unpassable. And right now prospects in the House look grim. Last week, Republicans passed a bill designed to force the administration to deport “Dream” immigrants — people who’ve done well in school or in the armed forces since arriving here as children. Former House “gang” affiliate Raul Labrador quit the group. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte, whose committee will have to approve the bill before it reaches the House floor, doesn’t want a comprehensive bill. He wants a series of smaller, stand-alone bills that will allow Republicans to vote for more border security without also voting for “amnesty.” Few Republican members of the House have any personal political incentive to moderate on immigration: Most of their seats are safe.

And in 2014, and 2016, conservative voters won’t be thinking of the long-term demographic health of the Republican party. They’ll just be asking whether Republicans worked with or against this reviled administration. Rubio knows this. His decision to become a key player on immigration was based on his ambition, not any particular principled concern for the undocumented. His ambition will continue to determine his course of action.


By: Alex Pareene, Salon, June 10, 2013

June 11, 2013 Posted by | Immigration Reform | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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